Commentary: Raise Florida Wages by Limiting Low-Skilled Immigration

Florida’s economy is booming, but workers aren’t noticing much difference in their paychecks. Average earnings in Florida remained flat between 2005 and 2015 after adjusting for inflation.

Congress is considering a bill that could boost wages. The RAISE Act, introduced by Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, would revamp America’s legal immigration system to favor skilled workers. Cutting the number of low-skilled immigrants admitted to the country would reduce competition for blue-collar jobs and drive up wages.

The bill enjoys overwhelming support from Florida voters. Yet Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson oppose the legislation. Rubio recently argued that the annual number of green cards should be driven by demand. In other words, businesses should be able to hire as many foreign workers as they want — they shouldn’t have to raise wages to attract Americans.

This bipartisan cold shoulder to needed immigration reform is why voters are fed up with Congress.

The RAISE Act (Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act) would reduce the number of green cards issued from more than 1 million annually to 540,000. Most significantly, though, the bill would cut back on the number of low-skilled immigrants entering the country in two ways.

First, it would eliminate the visa lottery system. This lottery arbitrarily grants 50,000 green cards to foreigners a year without regard to applicants’ skills.

Second, it would limit “chain migration.” Currently, the United States allows immigrants who become citizens or residents to sponsor their parents, siblings and adult children for green cards. These extended family members — who often possess no special skill sets or degrees — can then sponsor even more family members.

The RAISE Act would break this chain and allow U.S. residents and citizens to sponsor only their spouses and minor children.

Extended family members would have to win green cards based on merit. The U.S. would give points to green-card applicants based on their education, income, English proficiency, job offer by employer, and age.

By David Caulkett for NAPLES DAILY NEWS
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